Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is arguing that Republican politicians’ claims that the southern border is open are “inaccurate and harmful” and may be encouraging more migrants to attempt to reach the United States.
“If one wants to speak of rhetoric and the message it sends, what do you think the message is when a politician stands up and says the border is open, which it isn’t?” Mayorkas said in a wide-ranging interview with The New York Times Magazine that was published Friday.
“Those words are then taken by the smugglers that exploit the vulnerable,” he continued. “They know how to reach desperate people, and they use those words as truth to drive human behavior. They communicate via TikTok and other channels: Representatives of the American people are declaring that the border is open.”
He shrugged off the discussion when the Times asked about a potential impeachment.
“I am not engaged in politics,” he said. “I’m engaged in the work of the Department of Homeland Security.”
Mayorkas has previously pushed back on GOP-led impeachment arguments. In a detailed letter to the House Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday, he outlined his record in various roles at the agency.
“You claim that we have failed to enforce our immigration laws. That is false,” he wrote. “We have provided Congress and your committee hours of testimony, thousands of documents, hundreds of briefings, and much more information that demonstrates quite clearly how we are enforcing the law.”
The secretary has also been at odds with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) about the handling of the southern border. At Abbott’s direction, the state’s National Guard troops have taken over a park along the border in Eagle Pass, Texas, that has been a frequent site of illegal border crossings.
The governor has refused to let federal authorities to reclaim control of the area, despite a Supreme Court ruling against the state’s actions.
“I call on Gov. Abbott to follow the law as the courts direct,” Mayorkas said in the Times interview. “I call upon Gov. Abbott to communicate and coordinate with his fellow governors in other states. I call upon Gov. Abbott to not use human beings as political pawns.”
He also repeated a prior complaint, alleging Abbott isn’t working with federal officials.
“It is the responsibility of government officials to govern, and it is unconscionable for a public official to deliberately refuse to communicate, collaborate and coordinate with other public officials with the intent to purely create disorder,” he said.
Abbott’s office didn’t immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.